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Gov’t ‘firm,’ but Manibela hoping PUVMP deadline will be extended

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The striking transport group Manibela is still clinging to the hope that President Marcos will change his mind, or that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of jeepney drivers and operators who oppose the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), as the deadline for them to comply with its requirements nears.

The government has remained firm that there will be no extension to the Dec. 31 deadline for jeepney drivers and operators to form themselves into cooperatives or corporations or lose their franchise to operate.

Manibela president Mar Valbuena said 40,000 jeepneys have not yet complied with the requirement, however, and their drivers will be thrown out of work on Jan. 1, 2024.

The Department of Transportation said it could not verify this figure, but said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is ready to issue special permits to plug a shortage of jeepneys on several routes in Metro Manila.

Buses will be an option to ferry more passengers who are going to be affected by the shortage of traditional jeepneys, in case the impasse between the striking jeepney groups and the LTFRB is not resolved, the Transport Department said.

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In a TeleRadyo Serbisyo interview, however, Valbuena said they are not losing hope that President Marcos would change his stance and not push through with the Dec. 31 deadline for operators to consolidate and form a cooperative.

He also cited the petition before the Supreme Court filed by the group Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON).

He added that should the Supreme Court rule against them, more protest actions would ensue.

“Maybe, we can encourage the commuters to join us,” he said on the eighth day of Manibela and PISTON’s 12-day strike that started Dec. 19.

“We are hoping that the Lord will touch our President to have the heart for our drivers and operators,” he added.

Transportation Undersecretary Timothy John Batan on Tuesday said there will be no more extension of the Dec. 31 deadline, despite appeals from drivers and operators to give them more time to comply with the policy.

Many jeepney drivers and operators remain hesitant to join a cooperative or corporation because they will lose ownership of their units, which will form part of the assets of the group that consolidated.

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